Environment Society of Oman marks World Turtle Day
In recognition of World Turtle Day last month, the Environment Society of Oman (ESO) is raising awareness about one of Oman’s most beautiful, and endangered, animals. As a non-profit organisation dedicated to conserving the environment, ESO’s Sea Turtle Research and Conservation project has been central to the protection of the Sultanate’s various species that swim around, and nest on, its shores, and whose populations are in decline.
The organisation is now eligible for a $5,000 Summer Sea Turtle Sustainability Grant, which, should it receive enough votes, will help in the continuation of its important work and safeguarding the future of sea turtles in Oman.
Oman is home to four of the seven species of turtles found in the world, including the world’s second largest population of Loggerhead sea turtles. Others include the Green Turtle, Hawksbill Turtle and Olive Ridley Turtle who all nest in Oman. The Leatherback Turtle, a fifth species, can sometimes be found visiting our waters for feeding or whilst migrating. All of these species are endangered to various degrees on the IUCN Red List and face high risk of extinction in the wild. Both land-based disturbances like coastal development and beach driving, and sea-based disturbances such as turtles being caught in fishing nets by mistake (bycatch), ghost fishing, plastic pollution and climate change, cause major threats that impact both the habitat and population numbers.
ESO has been combatting these threats through its Sea Turtle Research and Conservation project, based on Masirah Island, since 2008. Among its efforts to protect sea turtles is an annual net removal campaign, which take place ahead of turtle nesting seasons to mitigate the threat of entanglement and ingestion during nesting and hatching seasons. Last February alone, the team properly disposed of around 100 tons of fishing gear, bringing the total since May 2017, to over 525 tons of ghost gear from important and sensitive sea turtle nesting beaches.